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Some questions about design

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Some questions about design

Post by Tutuchan » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:34 pm


I have just finished Reus a few days ago (got all Gold Challenges and all resources unlocked) and I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing. I was afraid of the early game becoming too repetitive after a few dozen games but it's not too much of a problem and the rest of the game is very much fun. So congrats to Abbey Games for managing this, I'm sure it wasn't easy to get the right feeling for the flow of the game.

Anyway, after spending more than 60 hours on the game, I feel I have a good grasp on the mechanics and I have a few questions for the team about some design decisions. I understand if you do not wish to discuss this on the forum, I hope to at least spark some discussion with the other players.

Resources and Aspects

My first question is about the aspects unlocking on the Giants through the Ambassadors. I find it frustrating that, for some Giants, it is very easy to know which Ambassadors to take in order to have a good all-around Giant, but for others, there is no real optimal choice (or at least, several good choices). Let me explain this in more detail :
  • First, let's assume that the priority goes to the leveling of Resources over Aspects. Ideally, you want all your Giants to have Level 3 resources (so Domestic Animals for the Ocean Giant, Fruit Plants for the Forest Giants etc) because they provide a lot of stats, even with low-level Aspects, whereas high-level aspects with low-level resources dont provide much stats.
  • I'll start with the Forest Giant, which is the most straightforward. To get Fruit Plants level 3, you need 2 Forest Ambassadors and 2 Any. To get Leaf Aspect level 3, you need 1 Swamp, 1 Forest and 2 Any. To get Fruit Aspect level 3, you need 3 Forest and 1 Any. To get Hunt Aspect level 3, you need 2 Desert and 2 Any. So you are left with two choices : either FFFS (3 Forest and 1 Swamp) or FFDD (2 Forest and 2 Desert). FFFS will give you Fruit Plants, Leaf Aspect and Fruit Aspect level 3. FFDD will give you Fruit Plants and Hunt Aspect level 3. Both these options are good, depending on your game.
  • Next, the Ocean Giant. To get Domestic Animals level 3, you need SAAA. Growth Aspect requires DDDA, Herd Aspect requires SSSA and Crystal Aspect requires FFFA. So technically you could get Dometics Animals level 3 and any of the three aspects by going SDDD (for Growth), SFFF (for Crystal) and SSSA (for Herd). However, the Ocean Giant Monsoon ability is so strong that I feel one Desert Ambassador is, if not mandatory, at least VERY advised. So basically, the two configurations that you will use most of the time are SSSD and SDDD. So, the Crystal Aspect is very little used.
  • The Mountain Giant possess two ressources : Precious Minerals, for which you need DDAA and Advanced Minerals, which require SDAA. Exotic Aspect requires FFAA, Noble Aspect DDDA and Seismic Aspect SSAA. So, in order to have both resources level 3, you need at least DDSA. The last ambassador will decide which path you want to go : Wealth with a Desert Ambassador that will give you Noble Aspect level 3 with DDDS, or Tech with a Swamp Ambassador that will give you Seismic Aspect level 3 with DDSS. In any way, Exotic Aspect is very seldom used because you'd need 2 Forest Ambassadors (even for the level 2 Aspect), which is possible only with FFDD (so Advanced Minerals will not be level 3) or FFDS (so Precious Minerals will not be level 3) : any of these two combinations is too detrimental to be really viable in most games, in my opinion.
  • Finally, the Swamp Giant also possess two resources : Herbs, for which you need FSAA and Exotic Animals, which require DSAA. Toxic Aspect requires SSSA, Predator Aspect DDAA and Reaction Aspect FFAA. So you need at least FSDA for the resources, which means that you cannot have Toxic Aspect level 3 (or one of the two resources will stay level 1 with SSSD or SSSF). That leaves two possible combinations FSDD for Herbs, Exotics Animals and Predator Aspect level 3 or FSDF for Herbs, Exotics Animals and Reaction Aspect level 3.
So, to sum up, there isn't that much variety in builds because in order to level up some Aspects, you'd lose the ability to obtain some level 3 Resources on Mountain and Swamp Giants. A very cookie cutter build is : OG-SSSD, FG-FFFS, MG-DDDS, SG-SFDD.

I'd then be interested in knowing why some Aspects are designed this way. On the Moutain Giant, if the Exotic Aspect were FAAA, you could go DDSF and have both Minerals level 3 and Exotic Aspect level 3, but not Noble and Seismic, which would make it more interesting.


My second question concerns the abilities of the Giants :
  • As I mentioned earlier, the Ocean Geant's Monsoon ability is very very strong. You need DAAA to level it to 3. The other ability is useful but not as much. You need FFAA in order to level it to 3, so it can be used if you are going for the Crystal Aspect with FFFS but not in most games.
  • The Forest Giant also has two abilities : Fertility Boost, for which you need FDAA (1 Forest, 1 Desert, 2 Any) and which is not a bad ability, and Migrate, for which you need SSAA, and which is really not worth it in my opinion. You can get Fertility Boost level 3 with FFDD but you cannot get Migrate level 3 with any of the two good configurations I mentioned. It isn't actually a problem because I find Migrate very weak. I may have used it twice in total, and that was when I was doing the Swamp Challenge. I don't know what could be done to have more incentive about using it,maybe make the migration instant instead of having to walk around the map.
  • Lastly, the abilities for the Mountain and Swamp Giants are useful in time of war with the Humans, especially Muck Bomb, the Swamp Giant's ability. You need SSAA to max it(but SAAA still gives you level 2) and it is also useful to destroy unwanted projects. I find both these abilities pretty balanced.
So, among the 6 abilities available, one is very strong (Monsoon), two are pretty good (Fertility Boost and Muck Bomb), two are okay (Aurora and Earthquake) and one feels very lackluster (Migrate). I guess my question is, do you have any plans about the abilities to balance them a little more and give more incentive to use some of the weakest ones ?


One last thing that I find frustrating is the placement of the projects. Some projects have a specialization that gives bonuses for specific Resources next to the Project or withing a range of 2 of the Project. While this seems interesting because it forces the player to think about how he will place his Resources in order to make the most out of this, it happens often that the Project is built right next to the Village or to another Project, which negates a lot of the possible bonus. Is there any way as a player to circumvent this phenomenon ? And if not, do you think it would be better to allow the Project to spawn further away from existing buildings in order to have more leeway ?

Anyway, thanks for reading, I hope it is not too clustered, I can put some colours in if that makes it more readable.

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Re: Some questions about design

Post by Adriaan » Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:22 pm


Thanks for playing Reus so long! You obviously know all the in's and out's of the game, and I'm very happy to see you had a good time! So let me answer your questions! In short: You're right about everything, and we didn't have enough time/experience/resources to do it right at such a high level, or choose to put the resources in something else once we thought it was OK(like creating more fun projects).

First about the ambassador configurations. I have a very bad explanation for that one: It was made 1.5 months before the launch. :P Most beta-testers actually saw the change happen! That together that 120 min era came very late in the process, made this mechanic not optimally balanced. Maybe you'll already heared this before, but were kind of newbies in making games. :D So 80% of the choice is production. However, there is another reason.

Your reasoning is solid, but it's from a certain easy-to-use perspective. It's a common build you run into and yields high results pretty quickly. I tried to make Reus have little bit more depth in that sense that you could just try other configurations, and it would actually work. Besides migrate (which I agree is weak and only good with fertility boost), all abilities have a role only they can fulfil. The exotic aspect, for example, is one of my favorites. You indeed have to go a little out of the way to get it, but snatching it early together exotic animals, precious minerals and crystal aspect, you get a very good mid-game desert build. I totally agree that going full level 3 on crystal and exotic has a low pay-off, but the idea was to push those exclusives further. Something else that didn't work out completely was how easy it would to "build" around 1 or 2 assets. There are some I'm pleased with (Like Hemp and Phosphorous), but some are too hard (like the some higher level aspects). So long story short: not enough time to balance! The configurations should have given 6 good builds, but I agree in most cases it gives 2 or 3.

About the projects: there is a way! They try to get the patch with the lowest value (although it can be a little bit buggy, since animals are not multiplied by range because of difficult reasons). So keeping one patch open wil ensure the project will spawn there. (unless ocean is an option, then it's weird :( ) The first project always spawns next to the city though.

About plans: You're right that the balance could be better in the end game. However, to really fix the problem as I would like, I would have to change some things a little more fundamentally. We looked at it, but it didn't seem to be the smartest thing to do with Reus now. :( It would cost quite some resources, and it would impact only those who would have played 30+ hours and still want to play more. So we decided to put the resources in starting something new and exciting! We've learned a lot of it, and hope to better in future projects! I hope you understand! (and maybe sign up for a future beta? You seem like a perfect tester! ;D)

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Re: Some questions about design

Post by Tutuchan » Thu Sep 12, 2013 12:19 pm

Hey Adriaan,

Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, I realized that this is one of your first games, I'm actually pretty impressed about how the game turned out for such a young team, so again congrats ! I'm sure with a little bit more time, things could have been easier for you but still, it is a very good game and I really enjoy playing it. The time constraint actually makes a lot of sense so thanks for clearing that.

I will definitely take a look at your Crystal-Exotic Aspects combo and get back at you to see how powerful it can be. I also understand you'd like to devote your time to something new and I'd be delighted at beta-testing it when the time comes ;).

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Re: Some questions about design

Post by Vulpecula » Fri Sep 13, 2013 2:01 am

I've had some success with the following Toxic Aspect build:

Forest: FSFF / Fruit, Leaf
Ocean: SDSS / Herd, Monsoon
Swamp: SFSS / Toxic
Rock: DSDD / Noble

4 Forest, 4 Desert, 8 Swamp; upgrade the Swamp Giant first.

Essentially, it sacrifices Exotic Animals entirely to acquire Hemp (which is superb for swamps), Chili Peppers, and Poppies. The Forest giant would be more robust with FFDD (Fruit + Hunt aspects), except 1) that involves working for 2 more desert ambassadors which is where this setup is most likely to get burned for not having Exotic Animals, and 2) the forest giant is the last thing you want to max out with this build anyway.

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Re: Some questions about design

Post by Tutuchan » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:51 am

Hey Vulpecula,

This is a nice-looking setup, I'll give it a go during the weekend. Actually, the alternative build with FFDD on the Forest Giant might be more interesting because it allows to get some Danger with the Hunt aspect, which can help if you want your villages to grow quickly (especially if you need still some Achievements). It also changes the distribution of Ambassadors to 3 Forest, 6 Desert, 7 Swamp that is more convenient than 4 Forest, 4 Desert, 8 Swamp imho. I'll try both versions when I have the time.

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